Legal Question: Home Owner's Association Dues

A friend here at the office is late on his payments that were due January 31. He recieved a notice on February 20 saying it was late and this was their final notice. That was the last that he heard from them for several months. Since then he had e-mailed and called the treasurer and president and left messages with no return calls or e-mails. The HOA sent the account to a lawyer for collections, and he received an invoice for the dues plus the lawyer fees but it had no information regarding where to send the money or who to make the check out to. They called to ask, and the secretary (maybe?) said they now owed them MORE money for the phone call, despite no warning in the letter or at the beginning of the phone call that they would be charged for the call.

It seems to me they should have made more than one attempt to collect prior to sending the account to a lawyer for collections. We told him he should pay what he owes the HOA but not the legal fees and take that to small claims. Is this good advice? If not, what should he do?

FWIW, this is in Northern VA.

IANAL, nor have I ever belonged to any HOAs.

What I would do in his situation is to write a check to the HOA for the exact amount of arrears and current dues, pay them, and tell them that I’ll see them in court for any legal fees.

If actually going to court, I’d also have a big balance in the checkbook, because I’d probably lose.

Most homeowner associations have a covenant that he should have signed when he bought the property. Check it out, see what it says about arrearages and collections. IF confused, have him take it to an attorney for legal advice. Most of the advice is going to strongly depend on the wording of the HOA contract.

May I ask why? The collection agency I use takes a larger percentage based on the age of the debt. For a bounced check, I allow 72 hours to make the debt good, then it goes to the collection agency.